Official Blog of the Education Exchange Corps

Monday, August 24, 2015

Day 4: War, Peace, and Espionage

A small, unmanned plane, equipped with what appear to be high-altitude cameras, crashed in central Brocoland. Brocoland’s Council of Scientists notified The Rock’s government. The Rock, in line with its historical policy of maintaining global neutrality, and in an effort to protect itself from accusation, notified the world about the plane crash. 

The Queen of Kittissippi claimed ownership of the plane and demanded its immediate return. Kittissippi announced they were using the plane to track a group of fugitive mice and to observe local bird migratory patterns.

The world knew that Kittissippi often sells its intelligence services to other countries. Who could have secretly been looking at Brocoland?

Adding to the international tension, the world had its first casualty of global climate change. Three days earlier, the world powers came to an agreement on climate change and limiting marker usage (because marker usage contributes to global warming, of course), but the countries did not enforce the limits they set. The Rock felt the effects and lost a significant amount of their coast to the ocean's bottomless depths. The clock continued to tick ever so steadily for The Rock and the world's coastlines.

The major powers also held the first global conference on war. The countries were given time within their delegations to make proposals on issues related to war and peace. 

The first proposal came from the one country without a military: Anyone's Land. They proposed that all countries disband their troops.

Each country was given 90 seconds to come up with a vote. Some countries displayed their lack of effective governance structures, especially when leaders within countries disagreed with one another.Eventually, this proposal failed 3-1. The only support came from Anyone's Land.

The second proposal came from Teen Land, which proposed what sounded like a global war. This proposal also failed 3-1, with Teen Land voting against its own proposal. The 3rd Graders voted for war.

The First Global Summit on War

Tiger then proposed a resolution. A 1st grader raised her hand and said: "Peace is good." The countries unanimously adopted this value statement.

Perhaps emboldened by the passage of Tiger's proposal, Anyone's Land proposed the establishment of an international court of war, with The Rock as the judge, to force those who would declare war into involuntary servitude to the world.This proposal failed 3-1, with support only from Anyone's Land. However, one of The 3rd Graders dissented from his delegation and wanted the world to know he supported creating a war court.

Only minutes later, The 3rd Graders dispatched three ships and three armies toward Kittissippi, revealing that they had made a secret agreement with Kittissippi for intelligence on Brocoland, but that the deal had not gone well.

Teen Land, after revealing and publicly apologizing for spying on their people's phone calls and emails, announced that they shut down their domestic spying program. Teen Land also announced a military alliance with Anyone's Land.

Anyone's Land, after making their own public apology for dumping chemicals in a stream that caused physical mutations of some of their citizens, continued their national strategy of selling off supplies and saving money.

Tiger sent a ship and an army in the direction of Anyone's Land... or maybe they were headed for Brocoland....

Tiger also seemed to have made some type of censorship agreement with a few other countries.

And so, on the day the world agreed that peace is good, militaries were on the move, the world was on edge, and the planet seemed to be a less peaceful place. Perhaps the next day would see greater unity as the world powers were slated to compete at the global Olympics.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Day 3: The Final Frontier

In the summer of 2015, a group of about twenty students in grades K-11 undertook a monumental task: run the world. Every decision - from trade to competition to war - was made by these young leaders. They could approach adults for advice, but the young leaders ultimately built this world. This series of blog posts documents how a group of children dealt with some of our planet's greatest challenges.

Space: the final frontier.

Since the dawn of humanity, people have looked up to the sky and wondered. What's out there? Are we alone? And will we ever know?

Decades ago, the world watched as a human set foot on the planet’s moon. But never before had a human walked on another planet.

Perhaps now was the time.

The countries of the world began a space race to reach another planet. The launch window was short - right in between the end of recess and parent pick-up time - and time was of the essence.

The day before, we had our first international trade deal between Teen Land and Anyone's Land. Glue sticks were involved in the trade.
You might be asking, why would a country trade for glue sticks?
The different countries had a different collection of supplies. Some had glue sticks, paper, and pencils. Others had pens, markers, and duct tape. Some had water colors. Others had paint brushes.

Teen Land had soda, water, and baking soda, but no vinegar,
mentos, or corks!
On this day, some countries had diet Coke. Some had mentos. Some had vinegar. Some had backing soda. Some had corks. Some had empty water bottles. Some had foam board.

Soon after the start of the day, trade talks began in earnest. The leaders had to design a rocket, determine how to power it, secure the parts needed to make the rocket, and build the contraption before 1:15 PM! And, knowing that the launch could take a while, the countries had to be ready to submit their national decisions within minutes of returning from the launch.

Finally, the countries had an opportunity to make national flags with our resident art teacher. And the flags were very impressive!


The day flew by, and it was time for the countries to have their rockets fly up.

In order to send a crew to another planet, the countries had to launch a rocket that went straight up into the air. The rocket that went the highest would reach the other planet first.

The first country to launch their rocket would be The 3rd Graders.

After much sputtering due to a faulty plug, The 3rd Graders' rocket failed to launch.

The next group was Teen Land.

Teen Land tried to reverse engineer a mentos-soda combination by pouring the soda onto the mentos. But this demonstrated the secret of the mentos-soda "reaction" - it is in fact not a chemical reaction, but a physical one in which the mentos, when dropped into soda, break the surface tension of the liquid and allow the carbon dioxide to fervently escape.
Teen Land's rocket failed to launch.

The third group to go was Tiger.

Tiger had successfully bottled up a baking soda-vinegar reaction! Their rocket launched, giving all of humanity hope for the future of space exploration.

The final group to launch was Anyone's Land. Their rocket was called Anyone's Rocket.

Like so many countries before them, Anyone's Land failed to launch.

On the third day, 3 of the 4 major countries deployed troops.
Tiger returned triumphant, having achieved perhaps humanity's greatest technological feat. But the joy in the world was soon put on hold. At the end of the day, the world saw The 3rd Graders, Teen Land, and Tiger deploy the first military forces.

Thanks to Tiger, for the first time ever, a human set foot on another planet. A global space race in a world of scarcity accelerated trade, led to a deeper understanding of what it means to have and have not, and pushed countries to form militaries. In the end, the country of Tiger was the only one able to carry the banner of their world onto another.

Although Tiger's accomplishment was unparalleled, perhaps the greatest accomplishment on this day was the fact that every country chose to participate in the search for something out there. Even the world's poorest country chose to pursue exploration into the unknown, without any promise of reward.

The curiosity of humanity never burns brighter than it does within the mind of a child.

Most of our leaders also tasted defeat, and for some the experience was emotionally overwhelming. Our fantasy world can feel real at times. But, at the end of the day, we want our leaders to learn from their experiences. The emotion shows an attachment, a passion that is unrequited by failure. But failure is good. Failure teaches. And here, at our summer academy, of all places in the real world, we want to be a safe place to fail. One reason why we are graphing our countries' happiness is to show that even a sad country can one day be happy again. We move forward without forgetting our past.

So ended the third day. The fourth would bring a new level of intrigue to an increasingly tense world: Espionage.

Day 1: And the Children Shall Lead
Day 2: Global Climate Change and the Art of Negotiation

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day 2: Global Climate Change and the Art of Negotiation

In the summer of 2015, a group of about twenty students in grades K-11 undertook a monumental task: run the world. Every decision - from trade to competition to war - was made by these young leaders. They could approach adults for advice, but the young leaders ultimately built this world. This series of blog posts documents how a group of children dealt with some of our planet's greatest challenges.

Scientists agreed: The world was getting warmer. The ice caps of the planet were melting at a
high rate. This melting was causing the sea levels to rise, which meant that beaches and lands at low elevation were slowly being submerged.

Although weather is harder to predict than sea levels, many scientists also believed that the warmer temperatures were affecting the climate, causing the weather to be more extreme. They predicted that resulting droughts, famines, storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes could cause destruction and potentially large loss of life.

Although rising sea levels could eventually affect the world’s largest countries, the islands were feeling the effects already. Perhaps the most politically prominent of these islands, The Rock, announced that it would host an international conference on global climate change.

Happiness Scores after the first day.
Each morning, the countries receive feedback from their people based on the decisions the leaders made the day before. This feedback results in a "Happiness Score." When a country does not submit national decisions by the deadline, their country is in anarchy. On the first day, this happened to Tiger. Their people were not too happy.

On the second day, Teen Land (the country governed by our teenagers) and Anyone's Land (governed by 4th-6th graders) both had problems with a particularly pesky weevil problem that threatened to wipe out much of the countries' agricultural production. Anyone's Land, one of the poorest countries, had found a way to use very small but feisty organisms to control the weevil population, but they had little money to implement their solution.

Anyone's Land discussing strategy.
The 3rd Graders (the country managed by 2nd-3rd graders) discovered that markers were causing global warming! Tiger (governed by Kg-1st graders) really liked using markers.

While countries rotated to work with our resident art expert to make passports, other delegations were hard at work conducting their first international negotiations.

Teen Land and Anyone's Land eventually reached a deal trading money for nematodes. But the problem of global climate change was yet unsolved.

So began the global conference on climate change. The Rock hosted the event, and all of the major countries sent delegations to attend. The countries' representatives were initially unsure about what they could do. It just so happens that none of the leaders of any of the countries had run a country before!

After a discussion about what could happen to the world if no one did anything, and after The 3rd Graders revealed that marker usage was causing global warming, the conversation started flowing. Somehow, the countries decided to have The Rock write up an agreement limiting marker usage to 30 minutes per day.

Some countries had no problem coming to such an agreement because they had no markers. But Tiger had a bit of a problem. Their people LOVED markers!
The Rock started to parade the draft treaty from one country to the other, getting signatures from national leaders.

Tiger's oldest leader was concerned about limiting marker usage.
But Tiger's government wasn't so sure they could sign the deal anymore. With only two members of Tiger's government present as the day was winding down, the kindergartener was all about limiting marker usage. But the 1st grader was not. She was quick to point out that their people loved markers. Even when she was faced with the possibility that animals could suffer (the people of Tiger really like their animals too), she thought the people just liked their markers too much to limit their usage.

But this resistance crumbled when the leader of The Rock made a personal plea to Tiger to be the final signatory to the agreement.

And so, at the end of the second day, the countries had agreed to a climate accord. All countries promised to limit their marker usage to 30 minutes or less per day.

Global Agreement on Climate Change.
But time would tell that, on this day, what the countries didn't do was more important than what they did do. They did not come up with a way to enforce their climate agreement. They did not include ways to monitor marker usage. They did nothing to make sure the country that was so dependent on markers - Tiger - would be given some kind of concession to encourage them to put down their markers.

Still, the countries started their journey into this brave new world with cooperative spirits. The next day would challenge all of that as the heat of global trade threatened to melt some of this good will away.

Part 1: And the Children Shall Lead

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Day 1: And the Children Shall Lead

In the summer of 2015, a group of about twenty students in grades K-11 undertook a monumental task: run the world. Every decision - from trade to competition to war - was made by these young leaders. They could approach adults for advice, but the young leaders ultimately built this world. This series of blog posts documents how a group of children dealt with some of our planet's greatest challenges.

"Tiger!" answered the Kindergarteners and 1st graders. That was the name of their country. You see, a long time ago, a mystical tiger roamed the other lands of the world. Humankind hunted this majestic cat, almost to its extinction. Instead of accepting its destruction, this tiger left and settled in the land now managed by Kindergarteners and 1st graders. The tiger held a special place in Tiger society.

Tiger making plans.
The 2nd and 3rd graders named their country, "The 3rd Graders." The name of the country may have provided a glimpse into the 2nd graders' historic subjugation and lack of full political power. Or perhaps it was in homage to the elders of the country's ruling class. In any event, the 3rd Graders formed a chaotic government consisting of multiple magnetic leaders holding divergent opinions. Their choice of the cheetahcorn as their national animal was a miraculous agreement in its own right.

Anyone's Land was governed by the 4th-6th graders. The land didn't belong to just anybody. Rather, the country's name was a convenience for all people. Anyone's Land was actually called what anyone wanted to call it. Want to call it Paper World? Sure! Discovery Zone? Aside from potential trademark infringement, why not!? Two neighbors, living in the same country, could have very different names for the same mass of land they shared. The government of Anyone's Land required their citizens to attend college.

Finally, Teen Land was managed by a group of 7th-11th graders. Teen Land was populated by teenagers only. Parents and other adults were not allowed to reside in the country. The stated purpose of this residential restriction was to allow the teenagers to focus solely on building successful lives. Upon turning 20-years-old, the Teen Land citizen was required to leave.

The 3rd Graders at work.
On the first day, the young leaders of the world built their countries. They named them, wrote their origin stories, considered the types of government they would run, and worked on some letters of the alphabet (OK, that last part was mostly just Tiger).

They learned how many people lived in their countries and their national GDPs. This was selected randomly.

The young leaders built and budgeted for schools, hospitals, and roads. They learned how much their people cared about cultural, scientific, and academic pursuits. They started to notice the distinction between themselves as a governing entity and the millions of people they represented.

The Leadership Library.
The young leaders were introduced to the Leadership Library, filled with donated and checked-out books containing the thoughts of the world's greatest thinkers. (Thanks to the wonderful people at the Kirkwood Public Library for helping us find our world's greatest thinkers!)

At the end of the busy first day, the young leaders had to turn in their national decisions and then take some time to reflect.

Little did they know that crisis would strike the world on the very next day.

In our next blog post, we see how our young leaders dealt with the world's first challenge: Global Warming.